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Three ways to train public relations ambassadors for big events

Recently, some members of the Copperfox team had the chance to travel to London to help support our client P&G as one of the worldwide sponsors of the Olympic Games and experience public relations ambassadors firsthand.

Some of us had been to London before, but we’d never quite experienced it like this.

When we would enter a tube station, a group of greeters stood ready to help. If anyone looked a bit confused, one was eager to say, “May I help you find something?” And they did so with a brilliant smile. Volunteer public relations ambassadors manned busy street corners armed with maps and information for visitors. And dozens of them welcomed guests to the various sporting venues, setting the tone for an amazing experience.

This is true customer service. This is something one could get used to. This is public relations ambassadorship done right.

It is clear that the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) had recruited and carefully trained legions of public relations ambassadors they called “Games Makers” – City of London workers and volunteers – to help visitors best enjoy the city and the London 2012 Olympic Games

As public relations professionals, we know the value of strong ambassadors when it comes to special events or any interaction with your organization.

Roll out the red carpet London 2012 style

Here are three lessons we learned in London on how to create public relations ambassadors who roll out the red carpet the right way:

1. Choose wisely – Employees may often be your best representatives, but don’t discount other stakeholders or volunteers who may make great public relations ambassadors. Teachers and others in “people” professions may be more out-going and make excellent representatives. Be sure to openly communicate your goals during your recruiting efforts and you’ll get the best people. Here’s how London recruited the best volunteers.

2. Train properly – Your public relations ambassadors are only as good as their training. Provide as much information as possible, and offer hands-on practice and role-playing sessions.

3. Reward often – It’s all about the rewards. And sometimes that means great gear, plain and simple. People will do a lot for really cool one-of-a-kind gear. London 2012 Games Makers were outfitted head-to-toe in a polo shirt, bag, pants, hat, water bottle, umbrella and rain jacket. They not only looked cool, their gear made them easily identifiable to security and to those needing their assistance. And, remember that your public relations ambassadors need to feel needed and know that they are appreciated. London 2012 officials regularly gave public thanks and praise to its Games Makers. Check out this story of one person’s amazing volunteer experience.

These three lessons seem so simple, but they are often overlooked. London didn’t overlook them. We noticed, and we liked. (And for the record, I did not get lost or feel clueless. Ever.)

When was the last time you received a warm welcome? Who else does a good job with public relations ambassadors?

Contributed by Carrie Phillippi

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Comments (1)

  1. Really enjoyed reading about the experiences of so many. Gave me a chance to live it vicariously and appreciate the benefits of volunteering for any civic event.

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